Belle dame sans merci (English translation)

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English translation

Fair lady without mercy

"What ails you, my poor man,
that makes you pale and humbled so,
among the withered seashore reeds
where the song of no bird is heard1?"
 
"I met a noble lady on the Rhine,
so very fair was she - a fairy vision,
her hair was long, her gait was light,
and wild her stare.
 
I lifted her on my white steed
and nothing but her could I see,
as she leant by my side and sang
a song of the fairies.
 
She led me to her cave house
where she cried and wailed much;
so I closed her wild deer eyes2
with four kisses of mine.
 
She lulled me to sleep then,
and I dreamt a nightlong song!
and shadows follow me since
be it day or night3.
 
I saw a pale king and his son
knights pale as death, face to face;
who cried out: "The fair lady without mercy
has you in her spell!"
 
Thus shall I remain here alone
to wander, pale and humbled so,
among the withered seashore reeds
where the song of no bird is heard"
 
  • 1. lit "(where) no bird sings"
  • 2. I assume it's "Aug(en)" instead of "Auf'"
  • 3. the original says "all the time" but I opted for (hopefully) more colorful English
Submitted by GuestGuest on Sun, 17/02/2013 - 02:38
Added in reply to request by TrampGuyTrampGuy
Author's comments:

An attempt at middle age-ish English.
Hope it does not sound too ridiculous.

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Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
German

Belle dame sans merci

More translations of "Belle dame sans ..."
English Guest
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Comments
TrampGuyTrampGuy    Sun, 17/02/2013 - 02:51

Wow, great work - I love it! Regular smile

I'm tempted to give this a 5/5 but I don't want to be called out as someone who gives "false" ratings - plus you're giving me a hard time with this proofreading request Regular smile

GuestGuest    Sun, 17/02/2013 - 02:53

Off to work you go, my lad Wink smile

TrampGuyTrampGuy    Sun, 17/02/2013 - 02:58
5

Aye Aye Captain Wink smile

GuestGuest    Sun, 17/02/2013 - 03:00

Thanks guv'

BárbaroBárbaro    Tue, 17/09/2013 - 15:58

Why is the title of this song in French? Any reason?

mathews.kottayammathews.kottayam    Thu, 19/02/2015 - 06:30

"Why is the title of this song in French? Any reason?"

Yes. This ballad is a word-for-word translation of English poet John Keats' classic ballad of the same name. Keats got the name from 15th century French poet Alain Chartier.

BárbaroBárbaro    Fri, 27/03/2015 - 01:55

Thank you, milord.

mathews.kottayammathews.kottayam    Thu, 19/02/2015 - 06:37

"An attempt at middle age-ish English. Hope it does not sound too ridiculous."

Except that it isn't medieval at all. Ironically, the original ballad by John Keats was far more medieval -- or at least far more Early Modern English-ish.

--------------------
La Belle Dame sans Merci - John Keats (copied from Wikipedia)

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel’s granary is full,
And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever-dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery’s child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
And made sweet moan

I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
And honey wild, and manna-dew,
And sure in language strange she said—
‘I love thee true’.

She took me to her Elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lullèd me asleep,
And there I dreamed—Ah! woe betide!—
The latest dream I ever dreamt
On the cold hill side.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
They cried—‘La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!’

I saw their starved lips in the gloam,
With horrid warning gapèd wide,
And I awoke and found me here,
On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
And no birds sing.

mathews.kottayammathews.kottayam    Thu, 19/02/2015 - 06:49

"She lulled me to sleep then, and I dreamt a nightlong song!"

A nightlong woe, since it's Leid, not Lied.